Starting a business can be a challenging, exhilarating, exhausting, and yet incredibly rewarding experience. Whether you are just starting out or are more established, you know entrepreneurship is not without its ups and downs.
Through our work with thousands of women business owners, we know one of the best ways to navigate those ups and downs is by building a network of support and counsel. We’ve seen that achieving success often means learning from the experiences and expertise of others, particularly those women entrepreneurs who came before us.
That’s why we asked our 2018 Women’s Business Enterprise Stars, 14 exemplary women business leaders, to weigh in and provide their advice for the aspiring entrepreneur. Here are their words of wisdom.
What advice do you have for a new entrepreneur?
Jayshree Moorthy, CEO of Frontier Technologies, Inc.
To the new entrepreneur: persevere. Stay focused. Don’t take no for an answer. Never be too proud to learn from anyone. Try and fail and try again. Create habits; process is the foundation of success. Remember the reasons you do what you do: family? Personal goals? Build triggers into your life to maintain discipline, leading to the results you seek. Be resilient, learn from your mistakes. Question why boundaries exist and break them down.
V. Janet Brewster, Managing Principal & CEO, Brewster Procurement Group, Inc.
Network! Network! Network! Always be pleasantly persistent. Never give up!
Sharon Olzerowicz. President & CEO of Hired by Matrix
Being an entrepreneur requires a 100% commitment, so be sure you choose something that moves your heart, something you simply cannot, not do. Entrepreneurs don’t embark lightly. Every day brings us endless adventures and challenges us with seemingly endless decisions. My recommendation is trust your gut, and make them quickly. With the information available, make the best choice you see and move on. You’ll know soon enough if you need to regroup. Trust those with whom you surround yourself. They will serve you well and the benefits will multiply endlessly.
Claudia Mirza, CEO & Co-Founder of Akorbi
The United States is one of the most wonderful and supportive countries in the world for business. It’s built around the entrepreneurial spirit. Not every business idea is successful, but my advice is to keep trying until you get it right. The U.S. provides a wonderful ecosystem and new entrepreneurs have access to many organizations that can provide support along the way.
Ronda Jackson, Chief Workplace Stylist, Décor Interior Design, Inc.
Be grateful for what you have, create opportunities from what you don’t, and be fearless in the face of change. Design a life worth living!
Regina Mellinger, CEO, Primary Services
My advice to young people in general would be to live with an open heart and value the special person you are; value your uniqueness. Lastly, have gratitude for all those good people have gone before you, and those good people who now surround you, they have brought you where you are. As you move forward, never forget this because you can be one of those good people for the people you meet and make a difference for generations to come.
Livia Whisenhunt, CEO, PS Energy Group Inc.
Act quickly. Do it now — talk about it later. I like to have an idea of most of the facts, but one has to act upon ideas and do things now and talk about them later, as opposed to a paralysis-by-analysis-type method. You have to trust your instincts.
Terry Lehmann, CEO, True Green Enterprises, Inc.
Love what you do as it's not a 9-5 job.
Lynn Perenic, President & CEO, Argent Tape and Label
My advice would be to just keep pushing and moving forward. Writing a vision, following your vision and reviewing your vision to make sure it makes sense. My other piece of advice would be to read!
Caren Schweitzer, President, Creative Resources Agency
Understand what you do best. It is very easy to just say yes if a potential client needs something but being everything to everybody can dilute your brand.
Jill Frey, President & CEO, Cummins Facility Services
My advice is to just keep going, never stop. You will have bad days and good days. Find a good mentor that you can bounce ideas off of - they will change your life. You don’t have to know it all - hire people that are smarter than you. Strive for a culture of compassion and an environment where it is okay to make mistakes, but continue to hold yourself and your employees accountable. Find and promote a good work-life balance and stay active in your community. They will help you grow and get you where you want to be.
Pamela Kan, President, Bishop-Wisecarver
Surround yourself with people smarter than you, seek out mentors, ask for help, and ask a lot of questions.
Laurie Halloran, President & CEO, Halloran Consulting Group
My advice for anyone starting their own business is to be introspective and find out what you’re really good at, but also to be humble and find out what you’re bad at. No one can be an expert at everything, so you need to surround yourself with people who have the strengths you don’t, people who can offer perspectives that challenge the status quo, both in your company and in the industry.
Lois Gamerman, President & CEO, Soft Stuff Distributors, Inc.
You gotta want it! It is just that simple. You have to be prepared for the long hours, sacrifices and loss of friends. No one understands an entrepreneur like an entrepreneur. Surround yourself with like-minded people and take advantage of all learning opportunities that come your way. Most importantly pay attention to your instincts...they will keep you safe.
What’s your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? Share your words of wisdom in the comments below.